Archive photo: Harald Pettersen, Statoil
Feel the pain, share the gain
Petoro’s view that production drilling on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) needs to become more efficient is backed by Torjer Halle, chair of Schlumberger Norge. “This isn’t an oil company problem, but one for the whole industry,” he maintains.
He identifies a sharing of risk and reward as part of the solution to the challenge identified by Petoro and Roy Ruså, the company's vice president for technology, with support from by detailed analyses.
“What we see is a frighteningly negative trend for drilling efficiency. Getting this documented in the way Petoro’s done is very useful. Everyone must contribute to overcoming it.”
Halle shares concerns about what could happen if the industry fails to get to grips with the increase in the time taken by production drilling.
“The worst-case scenario is that it’ll no longer be profitable to drill because we can’t do anything about the slow progress. That’s dangerous.”
He says the whole industry must unite around the goal of enhancing efficiency, and points to Statoil’s work in this area as a good example.
“It’s a positive initiative and in everyone’s interest. Better utilisation of people and equipment can boost the drilling rate. That means more wells and increased output for Statoil, and more business for us.”
Torjer Halle, chair of Schlumberger Norge, believes declining efficiency is an industry problem. Photo: Kjell Jørgen Holbye
Halle believes that inappropriate incentive structures between operator, drilling contractor and service company – the drilling trinity – must bear much of the blame for poor efficiency.
“Contracts aren’t optimised for effective operation. Incentives for doing things quicker as a team are virtually non-existent.”
He wants the industry to develop contracts which allow the above-mentioned trinity to share risk and thereby encourage a collective commitment. “Feel the pain, share the gain – that would give a big efficiency boost.”
“The worst-case scenario is that it’ll no longer be profitable to drill because we can’t do anything about the progress. That’s dangerous.”
In his view, a change of generations now taking place on the platforms is another source of inefficiency. New recruits go straight onto the two-weeks-on, four-weeks-off work pattern.
“That provides little opportunity for training, and the learning curve becomes fairly flat,” he notes. “People must constantly stop to read procedures in order to do the job safely. This takes time.”
CHANGE OF MINDSET
One consequence of the drilling slowdown is that the potential of new technology goes unutilised. Even with much better equipment, which suffers fewer breakdowns, the benefit disappears because the time taken to correct faults has increased substantially.
Schlumberger’s calculations show that it takes twice as long today to repair a fault which occurs 4 000 metres down as it did 10 years ago.
“The reasons include semi-automated rigs,” Halle explains. “We must still have people in rig zones where they’re not meant to be. That makes shutdowns unavoidable.”
He believes that full automation of rigs could be a solution. With nobody in hazardous areas, there would be less need to halt drilling and greater scope to think progress.
First and foremost, however, a fundamental change in mentality is required. “The mindset was quite different 10-15 years ago. Attention was concentrated on progress, the night shift tried to beat the day team for metres drilled.”
Halle thinks it is essential to restore such attitudes, without being willing to speculate on the reasons why today’s players think differently.
FASTER ADOPTION OF NEW SOLUTIONS
Petoro’s survey indicates that the drilling sector has become much slower to adopt new solutions on the NCS. As the head of the Norwegian arm of one of the largest technology providers in the industry, Halle can confirm these conclusions.
Schlumberger is finding that it takes longer and longer for technological innovations to be approved and adopted – in Halle’s experience, by as much as five years.
“Is it possible that competent technology departments in the big oil companies don’t feel under the same pressure of time as the operational units,” he asks.
“Operators lose money by utilising old solutions, and the contractor finds itself lagging five years behind its competitors.”
Archive photo: Harald Pettersen, Statoil
ADVANCED AND STANDARD TECHNOLOGIES
In his view, ever more advanced technology will be required in the exploration and development phases and for reservoir monitoring during the production stage to achieve optimum drainage. Seismic surveys combined with model-based software will play a bigger and bigger role here.
Where the actual well design from the seabed to the top of the reservoir is concerned, Halle wants to see greater use of standardised solutions.
“Attention here should be concentrated on progress and integrity,” he says. “It’s possible that this part of the well has received too much notice from the engineers, and that greater standardisation can be used.”
But the many and very stringent tendering requirements from leading-edge technology teams in the big oil companies make such standard solutions difficult.
“Such detailed and strict demands make it hard for the service sector to pursue good standardisation,” says Halle. “That clearly contributes to pushing up costs.”
Schlumberger in brief
Getting priorities right
Schlumberger bases its work at international level on four priority areas – technology, robustness, efficiency and integration.
“Where technology is concerned, we’re channelling resources to basic research in order to come up with game-changing technology,” says Halle.
“In our view, the sector is lagging behind other industry with regard to the robustness of its equipment, and we want to do something about that.”
He believes that robust equipment will liberate resources – both financial and practical, in the form of transport costs and rig space – by reducing the number of units.
Integration involves creating closer interaction between the various segments, helping to generate synergies which will ultimately benefit the NCS.
“We’re seeking to get 15 business units to work more closely together,” Halle explains. “That can give learning effects – from land-based drilling in the USA, for example – which can benefit us here in a longer perspective.”